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Bus Rapid Transit
Bus Rapid Transit makes buses move people almost as quickly and efficiently as a subway system, but at a much lower cost.
In tight-budget times, BRT makes more sense than ever. Multi-billion dollar subway and commuter rail projects don't serve the communities with the most urgent transit needs; they also require an all-or nothing commitment that burdens the transit system and its riders with debt, and don't deliver their promised benefits for many years.
BRT uses dedicated lanes on existing streets, and doesn't require the construction of rails or tunnels. A new BRT line can therefore be put in place much more quickly and cheaply than a new subway line, and with much less disruption of the communities it will serve.
- Dedicated lanes used exclusively by buses that exclude other vehicles using physical barriers and enforcement cameras.
- Electronic systems that increase efficiency by synchronizing traffic lights with bus movements, preventing buses from bunching, and providing real-time bus information at bus stops.
- Station-like bus stops where riders pay their fare before the bus arrives, allowing people to board the bus quickly from a platform that is level with the bus floor.
Learn more about Bus Rapid Transit from the Pratt Center Issue Brief "Bus Rapid Transit: A Transportation Revolution at a Bargain Price."
Introducing a Comprehensive BRT Plan
The MTA and New York City Department of Transportation have launched a scaled-back version of Bus Rapid Transit, known as Select Bus Service, currently running on Fordham Road in the Bronx, with several additional routes are planned for Manhattan, Staten Island and Brooklyn. Select Bus Service offers limited-stop stations where passengers pay fares before boarding, and travels on exclusive lanes.
In collaboration with COMMUTE, the Pratt Center has proposed a network of 11 routes that would expand the Select Bus Service pilot into a full-service Bus Rapid Transit system targeted to the New Yorkers who will benefit from it the most.
Download two overviews of COMMUTE's plan:
We planned the routes by looking at data on commuting patterns -- where riders live and where their jobs are, and where public transit is currently failing to provide speedy connections. We also sought to improve rapid transit service to public housing. Our proposed routes include:
Sunset Park to JFK via Flatbush
Route includes Brooklyn Army Terminal, Prospect Park, the Church/Flatbush Avenue shopping district, Kings County and Brookdale hospitals, and JFK Airport.
Washington Heights to JFK via Soundview and Flushing
Connects 13 subway lines and links commuters with Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Hunts Point Market, downtown Flushing, Queens College, and JFK Airport.
Rosedale to Midtown Manhattan via Jamaica
Route connects downtown Jamaica, Queens College and St. Johns University, Flushing Meadows Park, central Queens, and Midtown.
East Elmhurst to Midtown
Connects LaGuardia Airport, Queens public housing, Long Island City business district and Midtown Manhattan.
More on Bus Rapid Transit
- Bridging New York's Transit Gap: Gotham Gazette, April 21, 2008
- Bogotá: Building a Sustainable City -- trailer for PBS documentary
- Institute for Transportation & Development Policy -- international BRT resources
- Testimony: MTA Financing, September 15, 2008